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Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium
The Dallas suburb of University Park, Texas, is home to a team with both historic successes to its name and high hopes for the future. The SMU Mustangs play at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, which opened in 2000 and seats 32,000. The stadium is not named after former President Gerald R. Ford, but for a local banker and SMU booster who donated $20 million toward the cost of building the stadium. They are coached by Daniel "Sonny" Dykes, who previously led Louisiana Tech and Cal to bowl appearances before taking over from Chad Morris after the 2017 season.
SMU Mustangs Football History
Southern Methodist University first fielded a varsity football team in 1915, only four years after the school was founded. The Mustangs soon became a force to be reckoned with in Texas college football and in the Southwest Conference, winning 10 conference championships before its disestablishment in 1995. Halfback Doak Walker won the Heisman Trophy for his hometown Mustangs in 1948, and is the namesake of the Doak Walker Trophy, which honors the nation's top college running back. SMU has claims to three national championships, in 1935, 1981 and 1982, and has been the home of such legendary players as Don Meredith, Raymond Berry, and the one-two backfield combo from the early ‘80s, Eric Dickerson and Craig James.
In 1987, the SMU football program was assessed with a "death penalty" for continued recruiting violations, which led to the cancellation of the 1987 and 1988 seasons. While former SMU great and NFL head coach Forrest Gregg did what he could in rebuilding the program from 1989 to 1990, the Mustangs would not have another winning season until 1996, or another bowl appearance until 2009 under June Jones. SMU eventually regained their foothold under Jones, followed by Morris and Dykes, and spent time in the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA before joining the American Athletic Conference in 2013. In 2019, the SMU Mustangs came roaring back into the national spotlight, after a 6-0 start including a triple-overtime battle against Tulsa and a victory over archrival TCU in the Battle for the Iron Skillet — their first since 2011.